January 18, 2019

In Arabica Veritas: Brewing a Successful Career

Before he joined Canada ICI in 2011, Alec Heffernan always saw himself becoming a lawyer someday. Now a director of mortgage origination for Canada ICI in Toronto, Alec’s journey into the commercial mortgage industry was a road full of twists and turns that ended up in a career miles away from the one he had envisioned. “I did my undergrad at the University of Alberta, a Bachelor of Arts,” Alec recalls. “I majored in political science with a minor in history. The idea was that after my undergrad, I would go to law school. After my undergrad, I took a year off to work, make some money, figure a few things out.”

Instead of waiting tables or tending bar, Alec chose to spend his gap year working in fashion. “If I met someone who was passionate about what they did for a living, I would ask to pay for coffee and take ten minutes of their time to learn more about what they did,” Alec says. “There were a lot of lawyers, none of which seemed to be extremely passionate about what they were doing,” Alec laughs.

Indeed, as his gap year wore on, Alec found himself continuing to second-guess his career plans. The more he talked to lawyers, the more he felt that it wasn’t for him. “I started questioning my choices a little bit,” he explains. “I reached out to a few different people, one of whom was Brandon Kot, our managing partner in Edmonton. He was good enough to sit down with me a couple times and take a bit of a risk on me. I don’t have a conventional background that most of the people within the organization have.” Seeing as commercial real estate is such a dynamic industry that is built on relationships, looking back it’s no big surprise that someone as conversational and inquisitive as Alec would pursue a career at Canada ICI.

Alec accepted Brandon’s offer of an analyst position at Canada ICI, and he soon discovered that he wanted to be on the origination side of the business. Over the next few years, Alec worked his way to an associate position, and moved from the Edmonton office to the Winnipeg branch, and finally to ICI Toronto. “When Brandon first offered me the position, he said he was going out on a limb, and ‘don’t make me regret this,’” Alec recalls with a laugh.


Eight years and three different offices later, I don’t think I’ve let him down. That’s pretty good motivation, though!

Even once he worked his way up to a brokerage role, Alec used one of his tried-and-true personal strategies to get ahead. When you’re getting started as a broker, “you need to hit a certain velocity before you start making waves in the market, that you’re real and you’re reliable, and that somebody should take the time to meet with you,” Alec says. “What I’ve found in both Winnipeg and Toronto is that I’ve spent a lot of time just meeting up with people for coffee.”

Whether he’s stumbled onto a great networking strategy or whether it’s actually coffee that fuels the Canadian commercial real estate market is anyone’s guess. Either way, it’s clear that Alec Heffernan is making his mark at Canada ICI.

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